Daniel Loucks loves the outdoors and often blogs about his adventures. He joined the Bike for Bibles (B4B) Centennial Ride in 2006 (which took cyclists from Vancouver, BC to St John’s, NL) but only went as far as Canmore, Alberta. In 2015, Daniel returned to B4B, this time as a roadie and photographer. In this blog series, Daniel gives us a glimpse of what transpires during a week-long ride, through the eyes of a roadie.
August 4, 2015
This day was the second early start in a row, the back end of twin 100-mile (165 kms) days for the riders. The so-called century ride is spoken of with great reverence among cyclists. I have only done it once in the 17 years that I have been riding. I have come close a couple of times, like ten years ago with the B4B Centennial Ride, I rode 155 kms or so on consecutive days through the high Rocky Mountain passes called the Kicking Horse Pass and the Rogers Pass.
Even on a long, flat ride like today with good weather, and good if not excellent fitness, a 100-mile ride will kick your butt! But it will also leave you with a terrific sense of accomplishment and achievement. So kudos to every cyclist on the B4B Vancouver Island & Sunshine Coast tour because you did two 100-mile rides on consecutive days; not only that, the first day also included a couple of thousand feet of climbing!
I started out Day 3 as a driver, with fellow roadies, Judith and Cindy, as my sidekicks. However, at one of the first stops, Cindy said to me, “Daniel, since you are the photographer, why don’t you sit in the back seat and Judith can be my navigator.” I replied, “Oh sure, that’s just a polite way of kicking the only male in the vehicle into the back!” But I said it with a grin, because I was happy to sit in the back and shoot photographs all day.
Despite the early morning start to a day which would include 165 kms of riding, the three of us were in good spirits going through the sleepy, pretty fishing town of the Chemainus, unaware of the events that were about to unfold over the next few hours…
The day started off well but descended into chaos as we approached the City of Nanaimo. Cindy and Judith dropped me off at a scheduled turn-off of the highway – with some road signs and water and food to replenish the cyclists – and then headed into town to get some supplies. After realizing that there was an error on our maps, they returned to retrieve yours truly. At this point we had not seen a single cyclist, or the other roadies for that matter, for quite some time. This was about 45 kms into the day’s tour. We continued up the highway to Nanaimo and found the next scheduled stop – a rest stop at a mall just off the highway – and settled in to wait for the peloton to fly by. I would get them off the highway, and then Cindy would flag them at the first intersection into the mall.
From where I stood, I noticed blue smoke above the white line of the ramp and heard a loud tire-squealing; suddenly, there was a beat-up black compact in the off-lane already to my left. An SUV had just gone through but had not yet merged with the traffic into town. To avoid the SUV, the car swerved right onto the curb of the roadside, hitting a small tree. He bounced off, did a 360 around the tree and sped off into Nanaimo. A few seconds later, by which time I was on my feet and still processing the scene, a police cruiser came flying into the corner, saw me and slowed down to open his window and ask which way the car went. I pointed into town and off he went. The officer had his vehicle under total control, even though he came down the ramp at nearly the same speed.
Two things crossed my mind. First, common sense dictated that I should have been hanging out under one of those two little trees on the roadside. I don’t know which of the two trees I would have been hanging out by, and I doubt that my reflexes were fast enough to jump out of the way of the car as he came over the curb and hit the tree. Second, the riders should have been coming down this stretch of the highway, making this corner and continuing on to a nearby scheduled rest stop during the time of this incident. Instead, they were scattered around the area of Nanaimo. According to one of our long-time riders, this was the first time in the seven years that he has been riding with this group that a rest stop for the riders had been missed. If everything had gone according to plan, they would have been travelling the highway while a high-speed car chase was happening and then any number of things could have happened of which none of them was good. I like to call experiences such as these a ‘supernatural coincidences,’ because I believe that God turned a frustrating situation into a potentially life-saving diversion, and not for the first or last time, either.
Qualicum Beach to Courtenay
I have divided this day into two segments: a chaotic ride in the morning, and a calm afternoon ride into the town of Courtenay. The last few kilometers of the day provided some excellent opportunities for me to take good shots of the riders with a blue sky and a blue Pacific Ocean in the background. The cyclists were tired but eager to arrive into town because it was the last long day in the saddle for them.
The weather was excellent. Dinner by the Courtenay United Church Women (UCW) was wonderful and very much appreciated. And the camaraderie among the entire group was very strong.
This camaraderie became even more special during the evening service with communion led by Ralph. One of the riders was dealing with a difficult time prior to the B4B event, and we were able to support that person in prayer that evening. The service became a conduit for the Holy Spirit of God to enhance an already unusually close-knit group. “Family” was one of the key themes this week, and that moment unintentionally emphasized that fact.
About the Author:
Dan lives in Kitchener, ON. As a true outdoors enthusiast, Dan does not miss an opportunity to visit new places and see new things. He shares about his experiences on his blog site, The Lily Dipper.